You Must Not Disappear
after Edvard Munch's "Young Girl on Shore," 1896 Lithograph
Sprigs of moss thrum beneath your soles, your breath full with sorrow.
Hooded yellow orioles whistle moon tides as you turn. Bees buzz bliss
in honeyed hives, while trees extend branches, shelter from the rain. Rain falls
to comfort you, plaiting patterns on the windowpane. The wild wind hums grace
notes as you lace the whales' song. And when you smile, contented with your skin,
the earth spins its axis– the spider's web remains. Go home.
If you would understand beetle dung and sugar cane, the answer in a meteor's arc,
the pull of pale echoes, if you could feel the shape of love in every leaf and misted
flower, in every grain of sand merely content when you walk past… if you could see
yourself as I see you, standing in stillness at the shore, a world of offering at your feet
brimming with life and adazzle at all the possibility… then you would understand the
ground beneath you is holy simply because you are there. Go home.
Those boys at your heels
know no mercy,
blind to the dust-savaged
riveted with regret.
They're going to wrap
your neck, anger down
tight, then throw the rope.
Imagine every hatred
witnessed from my branches,
there's no wild horse
to fly you away,
only the anointed
can take you home
where the sacred sound
of your last breath
will raise up bark
where the memory of all trees
is inscribed. Remember,
you once leapt
across mountains, carried
on clouds, the sound
of night-burnished lava
through your nostrils,
your unformed fingers
wet with the divine.
The capacity to be fully oneself is a necessity
when it comes to creating love. – Katherine Woodward Thomas
she wanted to be a woman for him
beneath her mirror of salt,
the man she saved from drowning.
she wanted to dress in silken skirts
and chamois slippers that he might
name her wife, she in his embrace
waltzing across marble floors, unfastened
and slow, even with legs like shattered
glass. she wanted to love a land-lapped
man who'd praise her sea-tangled tail,
powered to sink a ship and trail
pearl-tipped sands through crystal
waters, her song echoed across waves.
so truth tousled the sea's weeds
watery, wet-violet shadows. he would never
see the whole of her, this man in love
with another woman whose voice and name
she'd wrapped around him in their bed.
her sisters sheared their kelp-twined braids—
nacre for a knife to kill a man who loved
a woman equal to him in every way.
though she wanted to be a woman,
the sea, wild and furious, would never
stop calling her home, never stop
turning and turning her to foam.
I waited for him
led him to a shack
in the woods
where my sister gets it on
with the neighbor boys.
He didn't know I knew,
didn't know I saw him do it.
Mary was a little lamb
her fleece was white as wolf,
I planned all day,
with girl scout scent,
rubbed leaves in my hair
left a trail
like in a fairy tale
bread crumbs and liver treats.
and everywhere that Mary went
her wolf was sure to follow.
He came bold,
he came dominant
he came unchallenged
he never thought twice
that a ten year old
with a hoodie and freckles…
He followed her from school one day
it was against the law
In went my knife
as he crossed the threshold,
my knife with frog poison.
I slit that sucker right
down the middle,
extracted his heart
careful to wear gloves,
rubbed grandma's knife
with a rag of turpentine
then folded plastic wrap
around the blade, as if it were
a peanut butter sandwich,
put it in my pink schoolbag.
He never knew her innocence
would be his fatal flaw.
I buried that heart
under a sycamore tree.
Weeks later, in a nest of leaves
at the base of the tree, I found
a litter of wolf pups
abandoned and hungry.
I begged my father
to let me keep one.
It made the children laugh and play,
to see a wolf at school.
He decided a Canid
would protect me from whoever
murdered that poor man,
the one with his heart cut out.
Why does the wolf love Mary so?
the eager children cry.
No one would have believed
me if I told them I saw him
eviscerate the soul of Little Bo Peep,
then throw her bruised and lifeless body
across the room, like a ragdoll.
I watched him do it. Helpless.
Why, Mary loves her wolf,
her teachers did reply.